Only two 300 SLR "Uhlenhaut Coupes" were ever made. One has apparently just been sold for a record sum.
During these tough economic times where most are struggling to make ends meet, it's good to know that the super-rich can still afford multi-million dollar luxury cars. Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, luxury car sales have never been better, and exclusive auction houses continue to set records. Over the past years, we've seen records tumble in the classic car market, and if the rumors are to be believed, we might be looking at a new world record for the most expensive classic car ever sold. According to Hagerty, Mercedes-Benz just sold one of its ultra-exclusive Silver Arrow racing cars for €135 million ($142 million).
If this rumor is to be believed, it will smash the record of the Ferrari 250 GTO which sold for $70 million at Monterey in 2018. The legendary Ferrari 250 GTO has been a traditional record-setter throughout the years, closely followed by racing cars such as the Ferrari 335 S and Ferrari 290 MM.
Mercedes-Benz also regularly features in the top five list with cars such as the W196 racing car, which sold a few years back for $31,837,000. The latest record-breaking sale was orchestrated by Mercedes-Benz, which invited some of the world's most notable collectors to an exclusive lunch at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, in Stuttgart. According to Hagerty, the special collectors were flown in on private jets on 6 May.
Mercedes-Benz has not made any media statements yet, but speculators believe that it is the Uhlenhaut coupe with chassis no. 0008/55 that has been sold. Only two of these 1956 300 SLR hardtops were ever built and were named after Rudolf Uhlenhaut, head of the test department at Mercedes-Benz. The Silver Arrow is one of the most famous racing machines to come out of the Mercedes-Benz stable, but it has a dubious history. Development of the early cars was funded by the Third Reich during World War 2 and it dominated Grand Prix racing before and after the war. It most famously won the World Championship in 1954 with Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel. Sir Stirling Moss would go on to win the Mille Miglia in a 300 SLR W196S in 1955.
Karl Ludvigsen, an expert in the field, and author of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix W196: Spectacular Silver Arrows, 1954-1955 told Hagerty, "I haven't heard of a direct sale such as you suggest. The reason for a high price would simply be that they are never sold," he said.
"If a W196S 300 SLR went private it would be a HUGE sensation. The Mercedes-Benz cars in question are those of the so-called Silver Arrow era from 1954 to 1955, only Grand Prix cars and the 300 SLR sports cars. The cars in that band have never been officially sold by M-B. Some have found private owners, like the W154 that ran at Indy after the war and stayed in the USA," he explained.
For $142 million, that buyer could have purchased nearly 1,300 Mercedes-Benz S-Class cars. It is rumored that the special Silver Arrow was purchased by a well-known player in Britain's automotive industry, but for now, the entire deal remains fugazi.